World Bulletin / News Desk
More than 4 million children have lost at least one parent in Congo over the past two decades, the silent victims of continuous cycles of violence
The UN said in a report that a total of more than 26 million children have also been orphaned in West and Central Africa, where the DR Congo is located.
This is the second highest number of orphans living in the world behind South Asia, according to the report.
“They are the orphans with a story of violence since 1994 — it’s a generation of victims that continues,” says Francisca Ichimpaye, a senior monitor at the En Avant Les Enfants INUKA center. And the children “lose their story in the violence,” Ichimpaye said.
Orphans are forced to look after themselves as well as their younger siblings.
In addition, many of them are vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups whilst others face sexual exploitation in a country where rape has become commonplace.
The DR Congo, which faces poverty and crumbling infrastructure, has been plagued by ethnic conflict and a fight over valuable minerals since 1998. Civilians are the main victims of the ethnic strife.
On Sunday, at least 30 civilians were killed in the DR Congo when militiamen from the Nande ethnic group in the eastern country attacked the village of Luhanga, where the Hutu ethnic people live.
The Nande and Hutu groups have been divided along ethnic lines and relations between the two sides have been tense over the past months.